Remember that feeling as a teen when you first climbed behind the steering wheel, the great excitement of being in a position to go anywhere you wanted? The freedom that the ability to drive offers us is beyond compare! Yet once we get older, multiple factors may come into play that impact the capacity for elderly drives to remain safe, such as:
- Vision or hearing issues
- Weakened/stiffened muscles and joints
- Slowed reflexes and reaction time
- Medication side effects
- Dementia as well as other chronic health conditions
For the elderly who want to continue to stay in the driver’s seat, these tips can be helpful.
- First of all, see the doctor for a complete physical to make sure that any of the issues above are addressed and remedied, and also to get his/her agreement that driving remains a safe option. Then follow a schedule of ongoing checkups, including vision and hearing exams.
- The physician may also recommend a fitness regimen to improve physical health, including flexibility and muscle strength which are typically essential for the tasks integral in driving (turning to look over your shoulder, twisting the steering wheel, pressing the gas and brake pedals, etc.).
- Assess all medications being taken and their potential side effects, and adjust driving times accordingly. For instance, if a bedtime prescription causes drowsiness for as long as 12 hours, be sure to restrict driving to times when the medication isn’t any longer in your body.
- Think about what type of vehicle may be safest and most comfortable. A variety of technological gadgets might result in more frustration and distraction than comfort and ease for some older adults. For some, a smaller sized car is easiest to maneuver, while others may want something larger and sturdier.
- Closely examine weather and road conditions. Driving when it’s dark, particularly if it is raining, can be especially difficult for seniors with underlying visual changes.
- Look into a senior driving refresher course, which will not only provide useful information specific to senior drivers, but often also provides a lower rate on auto insurance when completed.
Keep in mind as well that there’s always an additional solution to protect independence and freedom: partnering with At-Home Care Company, providers of trusted elder care services in Des Moines, IA, for safe, reliable, transportation services. Our professional caregivers are available in accordance with each senior’s desired destinations and routines, whether that involves religious services each weekend, Monday afternoon hair appointments, Saturday lunch dates with friends, or even an extended trip.
Our intent is not to take control, but to offer the support necessary to empower seniors to continue to direct the course of their own lives, and also to enjoy living life the way they choose. Email or call us today at (515) 292-2650 to request a complimentary in-home consultation for additional details on our transportation and elder care services in Des Moines, IA and the surrounding communities.